Nicki Minaj

I NEED AN AROUND THE WAY GIRL: Can Women Return To Their Hip-Hop Roots?

So here we are – in the age of everything Nicki Minaj, and not too far removed from when it was all about Foxy or Kim. Female rappers have always had a place, but never quite seem to stay in first place. In a male-dominated genre, it seems harder to find a female artist who keeps her street and radio marketability, without being too far left field. R&B seems to give fans more covered ground than rap does; more of those women seem to give off intelligence, modest sexuality, and strength at the same time.

Maybe Hip-Hop should take notes and make a fresh start back to where it began.

For most, the ’80s stood out as a period where ladies went outside their usual box and began to find a voice in rap. Unlike some of the newer generation of ladies in Hip-Hop, they weren’t automatically stuck on all things sex or fashion – they conveyed real messages like their male counterparts. Many may recall Roxanne Shonte’s “Roxanne’s Revenge”, which was a diss to the original “Roxanne Roxanne” record by UTFO. She started a powerful movement for Hip-Hop. Other artists began to surface such as Salt N Pepa, one of rap’s first female crews. They also started out with a response record. In this case it was “The Show Stopper”, which played off of Doug E Fresh and Slick Rick’s uber-classic, “The Show”.

Around the same time, artists peaked in their own way and positioned themselves as lyricists to watch for. They took individual approaches that fans found appealing, simple, and more relatable. Some examples are MC Lyte with the hardcore, pull-no-punches role, and Queen Latifah as the strong, empowered woman. They gave listeners real insight into a woman’s massive potential in rhyming. They were followed by Lauryn Hill, Missy Elliott, and Eve, to name a few, all creating different forms of success and originality, while remaining true staples of quality. That formula, as of late, seems harder to come by.

From the beginning, the subject of disrespect was at the forefront. Now, it seems the men don’t have to talk about it; many of the women put it all out there themselves. The times have transformed the thought processes of some female MCs, producing songs that would rather add to the insulting and downgrading, instead of lifting up. A lady naturally gains attention through sex appeal, but its when she speaks, even through verses, that she has the chance to change the opinions of those expecting nothing more from her than what they normally hear and see.

The voices of women can’t be limited to that of a particular artist or group, but the masses shouldn’t get stuck with the usual, cookie-cutter types that often make it to the mainstream. Female MCs who break the mold do exist. The fans are waiting for a real everyday woman with raw talent, minus the typical expectations put on her craft.

The ones they once heard more of. The ones from around the way.

Tawni Fears is a freelance writer and contributor to Follow her on Twitter (@brwnsugaT).

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  • mrgibson

    Record labels that only push pornstars with bars fucked it up for female MCs. Even Jean Grae put rap on hold and is doing something else. Industry is fucked up man.

  • Female roles in hip hop have always been polarized… you’re either the super sexy (Salt’N’Pepa) or you’re the conscious and outspoken female artist like Queen Latifah. The record labels have dictated what a female artist should look and sound like. From that, we have this whole generation of young ladies who may be talented but are misguided into thinking that they have to sell sex in their rhymes. I miss Lauryn Hill. On the flip side, I do applaud Nicki Minaj because it seems like she used Hip Hop as a stepping stone to cross over.

    • Sparky Flinstone


      • B. Graham

        Cross over into Katy Perry territory. Buncha 14 yo girls as fans and having no real substance as an artist. Just a buncha pretty colors and cute photo shoots! Lollipops, lip gloss and Twitter, Yeeaaa!!!!

  • It’s really not the media it’s the fans….Nicki Minaj just did a show and paid homage to Foxy Brown after bringing her on stage during a recent New York City, New York performance…..However every comment and or feedback had to do with Lil Kim and how Foxy Brown looks from how Nicki Minaj is using Fox to make Lil Kim upset…Because fans are so used to one or two females on the charts at the same, it became difficult for fans to understand that their can be as many female rappers in the Hip-Hop genre as males.

    • kstaxx

      LMAO its like you cant like more than one femal rapper at a time.

  • Sosa_Limone

    I really miss Lauryn Hill… the miseducation album is probably the greatest female album ever made and is better than 90 percent of male albums i have heard.. foxy and kim are smuts, eve was pretty dope but not on L boogies level. Truth is radio isnt playing your music if you dont fit into that “smut” box… like MR GIBSON said below, Jean grae is dope!! but she gets no love. nikki minaj is an abomination. (but i do like her ass even if its fake)

    • Sparky Flinstone


      • B. Graham

        If you had a mic and told Ms. Lauryn Hill (wtf?!!!), Jean Grey and MC
        Lyte to rock that ish, the real value of that would be hearing JG &
        Lyte. I submit once again that Ms Hill is NOT an MC. For straight a
        Hip-Hop album from a female, Lyte’s first album (Lyte As A Rock) can not
        be beat!!! Put that up against Education, and it’s easy to tell the
        difference. Lauryn was great at expanding her sound and that she did.
        Her album is really the blueprint for the new wave of soul, or neo-soul
        some would say, that many folks both m/f have been inspired by to create
        and expand upon. Lauryn has become more than HIp-Hop just like
        Wyclef. Only difference Lauryn had the good sense to leave and attend
        to herself and her family while Wyclef has turned into the Hip-Hop
        Bono!!! Basically what I’m saying is that Lyte is the female GOAT!

      • Sexy_Sabe

        Nah disagree Lauryn is, no other female hiphop artist has had such a huge impact on the game. She is an Icon, her debut album was a classic an went multiplatinum an won more grammys than any other female hiphop artists. Her album is a masterpiece, she touched on some many different topics tht plague our communities an did it in a clever way. At 23 yrs od she did it, an she wasnt bi racial or light skin with a given pass cuz niggas would call her “badd” she didnt have a video vixen fake altered body an she kept her clothes on. Lyte is a queen to, as is Da Brat but Imo Ms.Hill has the crown because lyrically no other female ive seen yet can mess with her…

      • B. Graham

        That’s the thing. 1 album. 1!!!! It won for all of it’ aspects other
        than being hip-hop and sold cuz it stretched beyond Hip-Hop. In
        realness, she was more of a traveler through Hip-Hop. Lyte is an MC
        through and through. She’s stayed the course and hasn’t tried to be
        more than hip-hop. Lauryn’s follow up to the Education was that garbage
        album for MTV. Education was a very solid precursor, as well as the
        blueprint for a lot of the neo-soul movement that followed. That MTV
        album was an embarrassment like Wyclef’s run for president of Haiti!!!
        Lyte put out 3 albums in a row, from 88-91, that are the best albums
        from any FEMALE MC. Plus, Lauryn sounded like str8 ish @ Rock The Bells
        in ’10! Caught the last part of her set and was extremely
        disappointed. So glad I passed her up to see Immortal Technique and
        Murs. Now that I think about it, Lauryn Hill is the equivalent of that
        horrible meth chick from the Black Eyed Peas! If I am going to choose a
        singer from the new school of soul to represent hip-hop, it’s going to
        be Erykah Badu!! Matter of fact, Erykah aka MC Apples is greater than
        Ms. Hill!!! I would like to retract my earlier declaration that Lauryn
        is hip-hop. The Fugees and everything that they have done since is all
        gargabe!!! Yep, I said it, GARBAGE!!

      • B. Graham

        P.S-can’t believe no one has busted me on my spelling of Jean Grae. What the deuce!! People on this board must be slippin’!!

      • VentKing11

        Lyte could mess with her and then some. L got those grammys cause of her singing, not rap skills. No doubt she had ONE great azz album, but winning one championship doesn’t make you the greatest in any category anywhere. It takes an entire career with consistency over time and L Boogie, while extremely talented, simply chose not to do that. Lyte did. More hit singles, more albums, more consistency over time. You gotta remember, they were just starting to give rappers Grammys back in Lyte’s day so that’s another reason I don’t buy that “L Hill won more grammys” argument. Who cares about a g** d** grammy? Lyrically, yea Boogie was sick with it, but it takes more than that and one album to be considered the greatest. For her day, lyrically, Lyte was as nasty as most of the dudes out so I gotta give it to her all day strong.

      • VentKing11

        I agree. It’s not even close. Until I see a male hip hop artist that sings (and can really actually sing) and raps and is considered THE greatest emcee, I don’t see how L Boogie can be considered. She was an absolutely amazing artist, but she was not strictly a hip hop artist. She was more a singer (which she was great at too) than rap which to me disqualifies her from the race. Now as far as female EMCEES who did ONLY the rap thing, of course MC Lyte was the ill-est ever. Lyte was so nice with it, she had dudes scared of her in her day. Name another female that can say that. She wasn’t just one of the baddest females of her time, she was one of the baddest man or woman. She has hip hop singles that are str8 classics – “10 % Diss”, “Cram to Understand You”, “Ruffneck”, and my favorite “Paperthin” as well as other hits like “Cha, Cha, Cha”, “Poor Georgie”, “Lyte As A Rock”, “Slave 2 Da Rhythm”, “When In Love”, and “Cappucino”. Lyte has had more hit singles in 1/2 her career than most rappers today have their ENTIRE career. Yes, Lauryn Hill was one of the illest when she decided to rap – she put it down no doubt, but because she was known more for her singing than her rap skills I personally can’t put her on the list of greatest ever because she had what ONE album? C’mon man. Just because L could rap, doesn’t mean she was the greatest ever. To be that, you have to have a whole body of work to look at and Lyte has that one hundred and then some.

  • CZ

    Does it really matter? I mean a female is going to have to do something way over the top to get any type of attention from the industry and the people. I dont think niggas are too keen on the idea of bumping a female MC in their ride? At least not while people are around… Its such a shitty point of view. But its real. Was Lauryn Hill really an MC? Not really… Cuz if she was to be straight hip hop her shit wouldnt have sold or crossed over to mainstream. Even back then, she had the hip hop heads saying she lost her credibility.

    • B. Graham

      There’s a lot of truth being said right there. Not sure if anyone remembers this, but there was a hot second back in day where The Fugees said (I think it may have been Bono, err I mean Wyclef) in an interview something against the Wu-Tang. That was the moment I sold my copy of The Score and was like “eff them clowns”!! I mean for real, how you gonna beat 36 styles of danger! Enter The Wu-Tang beats the The Score 8 days a week, 25 hours a day, 366 days year!!!

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  • B. Graham

    The lack of quality females right now is pretty sad. People love to go on about Lauryn Hill but she isn’t really an MC. Is she HIp-Hop? Of course. She is the equivalent of Nate Dogg or TJ Swan. Nicki M., to me, is equal to Katy Perry. Str8 pop!!!! The nicest female to have come along since Lyte (female GOAT) is Jean Grey. As far as cruising in the car and not playing a female, eff that!! I’d rock Supa Jean w/ the top down any day of the week (as long as it’s not raining)! Lil Kim-no thanks. I wouldn’t rock that ish if ya paid me. well maybe if the price is correct.

    • churchboy2

      I agree with most of what you said, EXCEPT…
      Lauryn Hill can spit for days.

  • Guest

    Nitty Scott, MC will save the
    hip-hop/rap community for the females come August 28, with the debut of “The
    Boombox Diaries Vol. 1 EP.”

  • B. Fletcher

    Things change over time no male raps as Pac or Biggie but no one seems to care about that. The past is just that I’m glad things changed. They do what people are attracted to and it works! Some people need to learn to accept change; its inevitable so you really don’t have a choice. You will be complaining for the rest of your lives, smh.

    • $21092579

      I disagree..What the consumer supports, can dictate the changes that occur.

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  • daRealMigos ▬|ι═══════ﺤ